Angelenos have always hoarded takeout condiments, keeping a jug of Phillip's extra-hot to apply to their own barbecued ribs, frying last night's Dos Arbolito's roasted poblano salsa into tomorrow morning's chilaquiles, spooning the pureed ginger that comes with Noodle Island's Hainan chicken rice over eggs. There hasn't been the stew invented that isn't improved by a leftover packet or two of Zankou's garlic sauce stirred into the braise a half-hour before it is taken off the fire. I scored what I considered a major coup last week when I topped a grilled hot dog from Let's Be Frank with a spoonful of the juicy, fiery hot salsa Jitlada serves with the grilled beef dish called Crying Tiger, then followed it with a bit of the Crying Tiger sluiced with the spicy, Mumbai-style Devil Sauce the hot-dog stand sells from its truck - a solid double play.
But the elegant simplicity of last night's dinner may have trumped them all: an In-N-Out Double-Double enhanced with a spoonful of the pureed-chile paste aji that comes with the Peruvian roast chicken at Pollo a la Brasa, a combination so spicy, so transgressive and yet so right that it now seems impossible to eat an In-N-Out burger any other way. Animal Style? Protein Style? The secret menu is now in need of some revision.
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